In order for us to experience the best that life has to offer, we will also be vulnerable to the worst.
Vulnerability is a two-edged sword.
On one side, vulnerability makes it possible for us to feel and experience everything, to let it in, and to allow it to affect us, shape us, and change us.
On the other side, some of these feelings and experiences will not be pleasant.
There is simply no way around this.
We cannot have all of the good without some of the bad.
We cannot have all love, joy, and celebration without also being open to pain, heartache, and sadness.
Vulnerability allows to to connect our innermost selves with the world around us, with the people, the emotions, and the experiences.
Inevitably, some of these connections will hurt.
Disconnection is not the solution, however.
Shutting down, closing ourselves off, and hiding our vulnerable hearts will neither mend them nor protect them.
The only antidote to pain, heartache, and sadness is more love, more joy, and more celebration.
The former will find us, but the latter must be sought out.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Kogen Dojo Self Defense Academy where he teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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